Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Antonia Rasheva from Bulgaria, Southeast Europe. I have started this business in August 2015.
I sell custom made fashion and home products with my own designs that I have hand-painted before making them digital. After you order a skirt, dress, pillowcase, or something else, the production process starts. After that, it is delivered to your address that you have provided previously on the websites.
I believe that my customers are people who love unique and designer products.
My average profit per month varies and it is around $100. Hopefully, it will grow because I constantly advertise on social media and offline when speaking to people.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I am an artist and designer by heart and tourist by profession. All the logos you see on my websites are done by me.
The journey was and it is still difficult because most people do not support you, they doubt of your success. There is no support for me, relying mostly on myself and the people I meet in daily life offline and online.
I love what I do and have the faith that one day it will expand and become my full-time occupation.
My goal is to make people happy as much as possible. When they use my products, a smile to shine on their faces all the time, especially when they wake up starting the new day.
I studied a bit about colors, graphic design, and a bit of Macromedia Flash Player in university because I had this possibility. It was not related to my cultural tourism degree but still managed to learn, which gave me the foundation of the e-commerce business today.
My paintings are abstract which makes them perfect for fashion and home decoration products. It happens spontaneously.
Finances at the time were very little and I had to safe from food to support my online business. I mean instead of buying fruits, for example, I invest them in advertising.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Manufacturing process happens in factories, far from where I live. I just upload my designs onto the products and submit. After submitting I publish the shoes, swimsuits or other items on my online shops and they are available for sale.
The factories have found me through my art profiles on the net and have invited me to be their designer.
This is a pic of the very first sample that I have received. The quality is great! Still in use!
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I started the first online shop I did not get many customers, just 23 sales for maybe 2 months' time.
I do not have my own website and not going to have it at the moment because it is not needed. In the future, I will create one.
I finance everything from my salary when working or savings. Very rarely friends help me with money.
The biggest lesson is to have a stable source of income which is very hard for me. I still try to find it.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I cannot give much advice because I am a self-learner and for sure I still make plenty of mistakes. Try different ways and see which is the best for you.
Just advertise, advertise, and advertise to have more traffic to my online shops and sales.
All ads which I have done are for a short period of time and that’s is one reason that it does not work. Free advertising is better for now.
Here is a sample of a banner that I have done a long time ago
The first shop offered me to be an FBA seller on Amazon. I have got 76 or 77 sales and they offered me to be a business seller. After that things became upside down because I was unable to pay my fees and they disposed of inventory for $3,000 and still want to pay my fees but I cannot do it because of financial reasons. The logo for Amazon is also created by me for my brand there. In my opinion, Amazon is good for customers, not for sellers.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Yes, it is profitable and working to expand it.
I cannot give a breakthrough in ad spending, gross margins, etc because most of the advertising is entirely free. When I have paid to advertise, it is not often and it is for a limited time.
I cannot say how many sales there are because the situation is very changeable.
I always try to expand my business because deliveries are worldwide. There is also wholesale available on all my online shops.
My short term goal is to make my business popular enough because now it is not. Long term ones are to create a company and hire people.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The biggest mistake is having a shop on Amazon because costs are more and profit is very little. Anyone thinks that Amazon is a good place for selling because it is popular but on the other side things are totally different.
The good partnerships are with social media experts who give me advice about digital marketing.
Do not make such mistakes similar to the one with Amazon, first try to see the picture from all sides and then decide.
I do not give up, always keep on trying and being creative. I am sure that success will come sooner or later.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Also places for wholesale online and trade (trade for fashion and home products).
I constantly discover new places to advertise my business.
I love those social networks because they are popular which makes advertising easier and the interface is good enough, easy to use. Plenty of options for people like me.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Hard to say that there are books and podcasts that have inspired me because my inspiration comes mostly from people. One person that inspires me for example is Oprah Winfrey. She had a difficult life before becoming so popular and I see some kind of similarity between us.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My top tips are:
Don’t give up!
Keep on trying!
In my opinion, other people think that they will get “big money” very fast. No, it does not happen. The path is hard, full of obstacles and choices to make. Just try to inform yourself as well as you can and think before you act.
Be honest with yourself and others. This what you give is this what you will receive in return.
If you haven’t found what you love to do, then find it and go on! There is nothing that can stop you!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
It is not the right moment to hire people with contracts as in a running company. The only option is for freelancers who would like to advertise my products and earn a percentage, including drop shippers.
Where can we go to learn more?
Anyone is free to connect with me on social networks or just anywhere and discuss ideas, projects, business partnerships, and whatever ideas come up!
I would love to hear from you!
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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